If I Stay - Gayle Forman 

"If I Stay" takes place over a single day "? 7:09 a.m. to 7:16 a.m. the following day "? but it's a day that changes everything.

I wasn't sure I was going to like the characters in Gayle Forman's slim novel as I read the first 15 pages. Mom and Dad are fun and cool; little brother Teddy is nothing but cute; and main character Mia is just a little too perfect. Where's the conflict in that?

And then they get in the car. The storyline cuts suddenly to Mia, standing outside her body and watching as the paramedics place sheets over her parents.

"If I Stay" is Mia's journey to either life or death. It's told between her non-corporeal self in the hospital "? watching as her grandparents grieve, as her best friend and boyfriend turn to each other for comfort "? and the memories of her loving family.

I have to admit, this was hard to read in places, and I had to stop more than a few times to lighten my mood, especially when Mia is trying desperately to figure out if her little brother is alive or dead. Like Mia, I'm an older sister to just one sibling, who's also nine years my junior, and it was heartbreaking to read.

"If I Stay" is lush and melancholy, but not hopeless. Mia has lost everything she's ever known, but she holds on to her bright memories and the knowledge that, in the end, it's her choice to stay or go. "? Jenny Coon Peterson

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